ABSTRACTFactors influencing the utilization of research findings by health policy-makers in a developing country: a case study of Mali’s essential medicines list
Author: Michael A. Albert
Supervisor: Atle FretheimCollaborating partners: Drissa Diallo, Diadié Maïga & Kirsten Myhr
Financed in part by The Nordic Africa Institute and Helles Legat
A research article was submitted on May 22, 2006 to an international peer-reviewed journal for possible publication. This article is found in Chapter IV.
INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND – Research findings are increasingly recognized as an important input in the formation of health policy. There is concern that research findings are not being utilized by health policy-makers to the extent that they could be. Several models of policy processes and research utilization have been proposed in the literature, indicating the many ways research can influence policy-making. The factors influencing this utilization are emerging in the literature, including but not limited to: the interaction between researchers and policy-makers, and the relevance and timeliness of research findings. Most of this research has come from Western societies and there is still little known about this issue in developing countries. The object of this study was to determine these factors by exploring the policy-making involved in implementing Mali’s essential medicines list, a health policy common in developing countriesMETHODS – Many methods have been used in this field of research, largely dominated by the qualitative tradition. A case study of the selection and updating of Mali’s essential medicines list was undertaken using a phenomenological approach to the analysis. In-depth, semi-structured interviews and a natural group discussion were held with national policy-makers, most specifically members of the national commission that selects and updates the country’s list. A document analysis was also performed.RESULTS – Factors emerging from the textual data that appear to be influencing the utilization of health research findings for these policy-makers include: access to information, relevance of the research, utilization of research perceived as a time consuming process, trust in the research, authority of those who presented their view, competency in research methods, priority or relative importance of research in the policy process, and accountability.CONCLUSION – Improving the transfer of research to policy will require efforts from researchers, policy-makers, and third parties. Through collaboration between researchers and policy-makers, increased production and dissemination of relevant and useful research, and continued and improved technical support from networks and multi-national organizations, policy-makers from developing countries will be better equipped to make informed decisions concerning their health policy issues.